Biofuels Conference Summaries

Session 1: Biomass Microbial Stain Development

1:01- Increasing ethanol productivity from xylose in recombinant Sacharomyces cerevisiae by protein engineering:

 The original talk was about the comparison of glucose and xylose. In this study they used genetically modified microbes to ferment xylose to make ethanol.  A cofactor xylose reductase (XR) was added to the S.cerevisiae gene sequence; this was done to increase the production of ethanol. The end result, xylose reached the same level of ethanol production as glucose, the leading sugar of ethanol production.  This information was retrieved from the paper abstract. The presentation that was in replace of this paper focused on microbes in the presence of furfural. This study measured the amount of furfural that was fermented by a specific microbe.  In addition the speaker discussed particular genes that supported the fermentation process.  EmFR17 and EmFR9 strains helped the microbes grow better on furfural than the LY180 strain. Further explained, strains yqhC, yqhD, and DkgA were regulated and had the ability to reduce the HMF strain which increases tolerance to furfural. These strains made HMF more tolerable in the presence of furfural and furfural subsequently interferes with the metabolism of NAPDH.   

Session 3:  Biomass enzymes Characterization and Catalysis

3:01- Adsorption of Trichoderma resei cellulases on lignin-rich residues

This presentation was also in replace of another talk. The speaker presented his study on catalytic enzymes and the CBM complex and it’s relation to the cellulosome. The cellulosome is where all the enzymes are connected and in the presence of cellulose the cellulosome reacts with the CBM complex, this is called the cellulosome paradigm. He further talks about other enzyme complex’s that were focused on for this study; like the multi-functional enzyme paradigm and the cell-surface enzyme paradigm.  The presenter mentioned the function of CBM in the presence of cellulose and emphasized the importance of the planar strip. The planar strip is an area that has amino acids that fits perfectly with the cellulose chain. In addition, they studied the CBM3 helper modules which influence the catalytic activity of the GHP module and does not bind to cellulose. In conclusion this study was able to find out the differences between binding CBMs and binding CBMs among different bacteria.

Session 4: Hydrocarbon and Algae-based Biofuels

4:02- A novel, cost-effective method for producing ethanol from carbon dioxide in hybrid algae

Algenol Biofuels Inc. focused on producing ethanol from carbon dioxide using hybrid algae that has been modified via dehydrogenous pathway. The process of this is as follows: the algae are grown in seawater and then the ethanol is collected when the water –ethanol condensates and dehydrated.  They grow the algae in enclose bioreactors, ethanol/water condensate on photobioreactor wall and flows to collection troughs. They put seawater and algae together while the sun hits the bioreactor, following heat transfer between the surface and the reactor. A condensate forms at the surface and is collected by gravity, the ethanol water condensate is enriched in ethanol seawater.  The condensate runs through a vapor compression stream stripper and it separates the ethanol from the seawater.  Some beneficial aspects of this process is that it uses very little fresh water, they use  tones of carbon dioxide a day, more than 60% reduction of GHG emissions, creates jobs, and it complies with the federal/state regulation. And importantly this study does not interfere with the feedstock business, uses carbon dioxide as a feedstock to make ethanol and organic chemicals in hybrid algae, uses light into chemical energy , and finally the biorefineries are built on desert  or marginal land.

4-03: Techno-economic analysis of biomass-to- hydrocarbons via the MixAlco process:

This presentation was focused on the ethanol production for jet fuels by using the MixAlco process. The MixAlco process was used by taking biomass that was pretreated with lime, then let it ferment by microbes, and the dewater process followed after. The organisms they used in the fermentation stage were in the Clostridium family. They used waste products as the feedstock for their study and let it be fermented by the microbes. The dewater technology is after the fermentation procedure and this technology collects the salt and is then heated and is used as a hydrophobic coating on the walls of the desalination walls which increases the amount of water that is removed. Another process that is mentioned in this study is the mixed alcohol to hydrocarbons in relation to the production of jet fuels. In this process they can use anything biodegradable like; trees, grass, waste etc.  Some beneficial points in this technology is that they do not need enzymes and sterility, and they use less energy in the dewater process than the ethanol distillation process. In conclusion, this corporation is producing at a larger scale for jet fuels and has partners like Valero and various other gasoline companies.

Session 7: Biomass Sustainability and Land Use

7:02- Emerging standards and policy for biofuels: implications for a sustainable environment

This presentation was lead my a World Wildlife Fund representative and he talked from an international standpoint and how biofuels is effecting the world. He listed standards that developed countries in search of biofuel sources should follow: first, obey the law, second, high conservation value areas are not permitted to be converted to feedstock production, third, maintain or improve soil quality, fourth protect and improve freshwater resources, and fifth, obey the sacred lands in certain countries.  Some challenges mentioned about land use and certification, were accounting, traceability, value chain management, introducing the concept, land use planning and zoning, certification, claims and labeling, meeting regulations, and the credible auditing process. This presentation was focused on the environment and specific standards that each country should respect when they are in search of biofuel sources. The World Wildlife Fund are in the process of finding ways that they can track greenhouse gas emissions, the amount of land use for biofuel reasons, the impact biofuels has on the ecosystem and the endangerment of wildlife. Overall the World Wildlife Fund is looking toward the future in finding a solution to biofuels and it not impacting or endangering the climate.

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